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Mitchell, Olivia

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National Spatial Strategy

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National spatial strategy

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Environment

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implementation of

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841

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National Spatial Strategy

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Environment\National spatial strategy, implementation of

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Deputy Olivia Mitchell

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Olivia Mitchell

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Snippet Contents:

I thank the Minister of State for remaining in the House for this matter which will be of interest to her in her job in housing. I raise the matter because I am increasingly alarmed that we are launching into a period of construction with construction strategies, housing programmes and stimulus packages, and today there was an announcement of a strategic investment fund of nearly €7 billion, but that it is all happening in the absence of an overarching spatial strategy. We had a national spatial strategy from 2002, but it has largely been abandoned. The only one paying any attention to it now is An Bord Pleanála.
The national spatial strategy failed, not only because it was largely ignored by the previous Government and by the local authorities around the country, but also because it was fundamentally flawed. It tried to do too much. It promoted a scatter-gun approach. There were nine gateways and nine hubs. Effectively, one was talking about 18 growth areas around the country but the reality is we do not have the requisite population. Despite that fact there is a rapidly growing population, we will not have the kind of critical mass necessary in 18 different centres to bring about sustainable economic and social entities around the country.
The drift to capital cities is everywhere, but the drift to Dublin has been going on for centuries and seems inexorable. It is not desirable for Dublin and it is not desirable for the rest of the country and the only way to counteract it is to identify a limited number of cities and towns around the country that we can provide with the kind of facilities that will hold the young populations.
I saw a piece on the news during the week about a town - it probably is just as well I cannot remember which one - that was in danger of losing its post office. One of the residents was interviewed and stated that virtually everybody in the town is a pensioner. No post office will save that town. No advance factory will save it and no number of houses will save it. All that will save it is if it comes within the orbit of a strong growth centre that has all of the facilities that will keep young people in such towns. We need to identify these growth centres and funnel all the possible infrastructure we can into them. If they are to hold rural populations in their hinterland, those towns must have all of the physical education and social infrastructure that one will find in a city such as Dublin. I refer to the same range of facilities such as universities and hospitals, although perhaps not as big.